Businesses Still in No Rush to Upgrade to Windows Vista

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2007-11-08 Print this article Print

Concerns surround the cost of new hardware, software incompatibility and the benefits of XP.

As the one-year anniversary of the business availability of Windows Vista approaches, many corporations are still holding off on upgrading to the new operating system.

The most commonly cited reasons are the cost of replacing the new hardware required to run Vista optimally, some of the software used by those businesses is still not compatible with Vista, Vistas new and increased functionality and security features are more trouble than they are worth, and Windows XP still meets their current needs.

"It appears that many organizations view Vista as fine for new hardware, but not for upgrades to existing hardware. I am recommending that businesses wait for Vista until they do a hardware refresh and then get it preinstalled," said Michael Cherry, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft.

Thats the case for George Podolak, IT director for Pei Cobb Freed and Partners, an architectural firm in New York. While the companys newest laptops were bought with Vista preinstalled, Podolak is happy with Windows XP.

The business launch of Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange 2007 was the biggest in Microsofts history. Click here to read more.

"We are so used to working with Windows XP SP2 and it is so stable that its hard to think about doing massive swaps for no real apparent gain in functionality. There are also so many other things that Im interested in, like desktop virtualization," Podolak said.

Even Michael Burk, a senior product manager with Microsofts Windows client team, acknowledges that Vista is still in the early phase of business adoption.


"It took years for Windows XP to become the prevailing operating system used by businesses, and it will take time for Vista to supplant XP. That said, there are some good indicators that we may be nearing an inflection point for Windows Vista to start to be adopted by the mainstream of businesses," he said.

More than 85 million copies of Vista have been sold so far, compared with 45 million during the same period for Windows XP following its launch, Chris Liddell, Microsofts chief financial officer, said recently.

But not all customers are able to upgrade to Vista. Bob Williamson, the sole IT staffer for Eisenhower & Carlson, a law firm with 65 users in Tacoma and Seattle, Wash., uses DesktopStandards Policymaker extensions for group policies.

Microsoft bought DesktopStandard last year, and it appears that product development stopped at that point. "The last version does not support Vista. This is unfortunate, and, as a result, we have to buy laptops and desktops without Vista installed," he said.

Read more here about Microsofts acquisition of DesktopStandard.

But Greg Schumacher, IT director for Riddles Group, a jewelry manufacturing and retail company with 250 employee machines, is in no hurry to upgrade to Vista after trying it out on his own desktop and laptop.

In fact, Schumacher was having so many issues with Vista and his experience with it was so bad that he actually downgraded his machines back to Windows XP Professional.

"We are holding out against Vista as long as possible as it will require new hardware, and a lot of the software that we use is not compatible with it at this time," he told eWEEK. "Also, from an IT maintenance standpoint, you pretty much have to turn off most of the security to be able to keep the machine up to date. So we are going to continue to buy machines with XP Pro as long as we can."

In response to complaints from business users such as Schumacher, Microsoft has already allowed its OEM and retail partners to continue selling Windows XP for an additional five months, until June 30, 2008.

Microsofts partners want to keep Windows XP in play. Read more here.

That move followed the decision by a number of OEMs and PC makers to let customers downgrade their new Vista machines to Windows XP.

But the news is not all bad. Directions on Microsofts Cherry said that a good number of organizations are starting to evaluate Vista, especially as the first service pack is on the horizon and these evaluations can be based on that.

Microsoft has said it expects to release Vista SP1 to manufacturing in the first quarter of 2008.

"I do expect evaluations to pick up based on SP1, and if organizations find that there is value, deployments may increase," Cherry said.

To read more about Windows Vista SP1, click here.

Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, said that while some enterprises have reported problems with the initial version of Vista, early reports on SP1 indicate that many of their issues have been addressed. "Corporate adoption should start to pick up in 2008 if SP1 continues to perform well in tests," he said.

Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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